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The Three Faces of Eve

The Three Faces of Eve(1957)

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The film opens with narrator Alistair Cooke directly addressing the audience with the following speech: "This is a true story....How often have you seen that segment at the beginning of a picture....Well, this is the story about a sweet rather baffled young housewife who in 1951, in her home in Georgia suddenly frightened her husband by behaving very unlike herself....She was, in fact, a case of multiple personalities...the account of the case was delivered to the American Psychiatric Association in 1953...all the episodes you are going to see happened to this girl who they called Eve White....Much of the dialogue was taken from the actual records of the doctor we call Dr. Luther..." Cooke then serves as the offscreen narrator for the rest of the film, describing the progression of Eve's illness and recovery.
       Drs. Corbett H. Thigpen and Harvey M. Cleckley, who wrote the book on which this film was based, were the therapists who treated the real Eve. According to an October 1989 Los Angeles Times article, her actual name was Chris Costner Sizemore, and in reality, she did not completely recover until 1974. Although the doctors thought she had been cured in the 1950s, she suffered several relapses. Her multiple personalities were triggered at the age of two, when she experienced three traumatic incidents. The first occurred when she came upon a man who appeared to be drowned in a ditch. The second transpired when she witnessed a man being sawed in half at her father's lumber mill, and the last happened when her mother was badly cut by an exploding bottle. In all, Sizemore assumed twenty-two different personalities.
       In 1989, she sued Twentieth-Century Fox to recover the rights to her life story, claiming that although the studio had paid her $7,000, that sum only encompassed the material in the book written by Cleckley and Thigpen. A February 1989 New York Times news item added that the conflict erupted when actress Sissy Spacek expressed an interest in buying the rights to Sizemore's autobiography In Sickness and in Health. A June 1990 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that the suit was settled in 1990 when Fox allowed Sizemore to keep the rights to her story while they retained the rights to the material dealing with The Three Faces of Eve.
       A September 14, 1956 New York Times article notes that Fox had great difficulty casting the part of Eve, and had considered both Judy Garland and Jennifer Jones for the role. According to a September 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item, Kirk Douglas, whose company, Bryna Productions, was producing the film Lizzie, which also dealt with multiple personalities, sued Twentieth-Century Fox to postpone The Three Faces of Eve because of the similarity of their plots. Fox then decided to delay the production of their film until after the publication of Thigpen and Cleckley's book. For more information about Lizzie, please see entry above. Joanne Woodward received an Academy Award for her portrayal of Eve in this film.